It has been nearly two years since I’ve seen Arrival, so why am I just now getting around to writing about it? I have no idea why, but it just happened that way. Anyway, I couldn’t resist this movie, partly (largely?) because its protagonist is a linguist. Not a polyglot, but a true linguist! How often does that happen?

You should definitely read Ben Zimmer’s article about the linguistics in Arrival. The following line particularly resonated with me, as I have often been asked what the connection is between my interests in math and linguistics:

Donnelly remarks to Banks that she approaches language like a mathematician. The statement will resonate positively for many linguists.

Anyway, as Zimmer discusses, the movie may be a bit too Whorfian to be plausible, but so what? He points out in his last sentence that it is still “a beautiful, sad, and thought-provoking meditation on humanity’s greatest tools: language and science.” So it is.

For a more thorough (and visual) discussion, see this discussion on YouTube, which is well worth taking the time to watch.

Categories: Linguistics, Movies & (occasionally) TV